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When is the proper time to recite Tefillas Haderech when travelling in an airplane?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

In Halichos Mordechai, The Traveler's Companion, by Rabbi Eliezer Wanger, he says (quoting the "אהלך באמיתך"):

  1. If one is traveling by airplane and the airport is located outside the city — even if there is a distance less than a parsah between the city limit and the airport — one should say Tefilas Haderech in the car, taxi or bus that is taking him to the airport. This should be said once he is outside the city limits, and not after takeoff.

  2. If the airport is located within the city limits, then one should wait to say Tefilas Haderech until after takeoff.

Earlier in the book, he describes a "parsah" as:

The distance of a parsah is equivalent to 8000 amos (4 mil) which in our terms range from 3.840 km. / 2.385 miles (According to RA"Ch Naeh) to 4.640 km. / 2.9 miles (According to the Chazon Ish) to 4.800 km./3 miles (A'Halech B'amitecha) .

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Would you say JFK or TLV are in city limits? – yydl Aug 7 '11 at 16:14
@yydl: JFK - I would say yes. TLV - no idea. As always CYLOR. Earlier in the chapter , he defines "city limits" as follows: As long as there is a dwelling located within 70 2/3 amos of the previous dwelling, it is still considered within the city limits, even if this situation extends for many miles. ------ One could argue that this is referring to after the official city limits, not within the city itself, but I could be wrong. I think it was much more common back in the day to have the airport outside the city, but by now the cities have grown to surround the airport. – Menachem Aug 7 '11 at 17:01
I have heard that where an airport is within a city, one should recite t'filas haderech while the plane taxis more than 70.7 amos away from the nearest building and before liftoff. I don't recall whom I heard this from. Of course, as always, CYLOR. – msh210 Aug 8 '11 at 4:08

One does not say tefillas ha-derech unless he feels some danger or worry about the trip. Therefore, for most regular fliers nowadays, there is no need to say the prayer. (in the name of R. Soloveitchik, Nefesh HaRav p149)

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Not sure where you get "most", but I personally feel a greater fear of flying than say taking a 5-hour road trip. I would imagine many others would have the same. – yydl Jun 5 '12 at 5:49
Either way: this sounds like a comment on the original question. After all, if one does have fear, you would agree that Tefillas Haderech is necessary. – yydl Jun 5 '12 at 5:51

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